2005 Subaru Outback Electrical Issue help!

I have a 2005 Subaru Outback. I will be driving and lose all power to the car and it dies. I will try to restart the car and all the battery power will be on (lights, radio, power windows, etc.) however there is no sound when trying to crank the key. If I wait a little while or push the car, it will start back up with the check engine light on and cruise light blinking. I can drive it a block or so with decreased acceleration and it will die again. Brought it to my local shop and they could not recreate the issue (sat overnight). They cleaned the battery terminals and cleaned the throttle body. I drove it for about 3 weeks with no issues and the same exact thing happened again.

The shop told me the codes they got from the check engine were all communication codes (??). The only thing know about the two days the car broke down 3 weeks apart is I filled up the tank with gas on those days (but that doesnt seem like it would matter).

After sitting for an hour waiting for the tow truck. The car started up and he was able to drive it off the truck with no issue. I am totally lost here. Please help.

It sort of sounds like a bad connection in the wiring harness somewhere. I presume they checked the battery and alternator at the same time they cleaned the battery terminals. If not, that’s something to try. Another simple thing is to remove everything from you key ring, and only insert the single key into the ignition, see if that helps.

hmm … when it dies like this, there’s no “rrr rrrr rrr” sound or even a click when you turn the key to “start”? Do you have a security system that prevents car theft by disabling the starting system ? If so, that could be the cause.

Were there any repairs, even an oil change, done just prior to this starting? Any big rainstorms where water could have splashed into the engine compartment?

Thanks for the reply.

There is no sound when you turn the car over after it has died. No click, nothing. There is a factory security system in the car. I havent looked into that.

No repairs before it happened and no big rain storms/driving through substantial water.

This happened at 95k miles.

Do you mean “there is no sound when I turn the key” ? (“turn the car over” is different)

could be the lock itself or the switch that the lock turns. Did you try wiggling the key, or repeated turns?


The main electrical panel under the hood supplies power to the ignition switch. The switch supplies power to most of the fuses in the dash fuse panel and it has several positions, RUN, ACC, and START. The RUN and ACC positions supply power to different areas at the same time. From the description of the trouble the switch may have a intermittent problem with the RUN position which supplies power to the engine area. Along with the ignition switch there is a Main Relay involved with the engine operation. Faulty relay contacts which could cause the engine to die while going down the road but it wouldn’t cause a starter circuit problem. That issue points back to the ignition switch along with the engine operation going down. Since things associated with the ACC position of the ignition switch seem to be okay then it seems to indicate a problem with the RUN position of the switch or bad connection of power to the switch. I would verify that the ignition switch positions are working correctly for the first step in the correction of this problem.

There is absolutely nothing when I turn the key. But all the lights, radio, power etc. turns on.

Thanks for the tips.

If the only problem was that sometimes it wouldn’t crank (that ‘rr rrr rr’ sound) with the key in “start”, that might not be the ignition switch. Could be the neutral safety switch, battery, battery connection, or the starter motor. But since you say you seem to lose electrical power and the car stalls while you are riding down the street, that tends to favor the problem being with the ignition switch or the security system. Cougar’s idea above to first test the ignition switch is a good one.

Edit: About nomenclature, mechanics use the term “crank” when you turn the key to “start” and hear that "rrr rrr " sound. So you have a no-crank condition. It’s unusual to say that you ‘crank the key’. Common usage is you “crank” the engine by turning the key to “start”. The term “turn the car over” or “turn the engine over” or “turn over” is ambiguous and suggest to avoid that when speaking to mechanics to avoid confusion. The normal sequence is you turn the key to “start”, the engine cranks, catches (or starts), and runs.

Thank you all so much. I will be trying to get the codes today from them. Also not being much of a car guy the nomenclature helps a ton, I was always confused by this.

While there may be some engine codes stored they won’t really help solve the problem you are having with the electrical issue although, some codes like the communication errors can indirectly be involved with the problem.